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8 Sun-Devil Approved Things to Do

Soak up a little Southwestern spirit in Tempe, an under-the-radar town known as much for its year-round events as it is for Arizona State University. True Sun Devils know that Tempe rivals its bigger neighbors Phoenix and Scottsdale, offering locals, alums and newcomers alike the opportunity to hike, shop, wine and dine with the best of them.

There are more things to do in Tempe than hours in the day, but these eight Sun Devil-approved sights to see, stores to explore and spots to eat are a great place to start.


ASU Gammage Auditorium

Culture is king when it comes to Tempe. Considered one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last public commissions, The Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium is a performing arts center located directly on Arizona State University’s campus.

The 3,017-seat venue is an unmatched place to catch a show. It plays host to a wide variety of entertainment acts, from the latest Broadway performances and concerts to other live entertainment. Plus, you can’t beat the location — the Gammage is just steps from Graduate Tempe’s front door.

Insider Tip

Check out their online calendar for upcoming events.

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Tempe Town Lake

Pay a visit to Tempe’s very own waterfront oasis. Located in the heart of the city, Tempe Town Lake is the perfect place to get a taste of the outdoors.

Swimming in the lake is off limits, but there’s no shortage of activities in its place. You can rent a boat, go for a lakeside jog, set up your fishing pole, ride a bike or take in public artwork around the marina. Want to test your hand at water sports? Kayaks and stand up paddle boards are available to rent, too.

Insider Tip

Make your way over during golden hour, the sunsets are unmatched.

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Hayden Butte Preserve

Look out over the city from Hayden Butte Preserve, locally known as ‘A’ Mountain for the 60-foot, gold-painted “A” affixed to the hillside. It’s also partially located on the Arizona State University campus, so this hike is as Sun Devil as it gets. This quick, 0.7 mile scramble (one-way) leads up the hillside until you crest to see Tempe unfolding below you. 

Though the trail is largely paved, if you time it right you might just catch sight of some desert critters and even cacti in bloom.

Insider Tip

Start your day on the right foot with a hike to catch a stellar sunrise.

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Desert Botanical Gardens

See the desert in bloom at the Desert Botanical Gardens, located in nearby Phoenix. There’s always something new to discover at the Botanical Gardens, from desert flora you didn’t know existed to special events that’ll help you see the desert in a new light. 

Stroll along trails that showcase the different aspects of desert landscaping, glimpse views of surrounding mountains, and even put your imagination to the test in the all-new nature play space, Cactus Clubhouse. No matter how you explore, be sure your senses are on full alert so you don’t miss any of the vibrant desert sights or floral scents.

Insider Tip

Order the Green Chili Cheeseburger at Gertrude’s.

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Papago Park

Soak up wide open spaces and red butte formations at Papago Park, a favorite among Phoenix locals for getting outside. Though the most-traversed trail is the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock, there are countless ways to work up a sweat. Go for a stroll or even a trail run, play golf at the Papago Golf Course, or fish in the seven-acre lagoon. 

Hikes feature shorter 0.3 mile hikes as well as 2.3 mile stretches, each of which meander through the Sonoran Desert and even an interpretive nature trail. Other attractions include Governor Hunt’s Tomb, a white pyramid where Arizona’s first governor George P. Hunt was entombed in 1934.

Insider Tip

Catch a sunrise from the Hole-in-the-Rock.

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Tempe Farmers Market

Food tastes better when it’s grown in Arizona. Stop by the Tempe Farmers Market for a local twist on everything from coffee beans to meats, cheeses, and tamales. Colorful produce, smoothies, and more line the tables of the market, many of which feature some, if not all, locally-sourced ingredients. 

Cool down with espresso made from locally-roasted coffee beans. Fill up on homemade tamales. Sweeten your day with locally-made jams and jellies or really pack a punch with a freshly-baked brownie.

Insider Tip

Start your day off right with a Desert Palm smoothie!

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ASU Art Museum

Head to the eclectic ASU Art Museum, located right on campus and just half a mile from Graduate Tempe. Though they’re only open on weekends, the limited hours only add to the museum’s mystique. Their exhibits transform with the season, though each one challenges viewers to question their perspective on the world around them, whether that’s the magic of the human body or commentary on boredom. 

If no exhibits strike your fancy, peruse the museum’s collection of 12,000 objects spanning countries, cultures, and generations. Immerse yourself in contemporary crafts, historic art, and works from the Latinx and Latin American communities.

Insider Tip

They’re only open Friday-Sunday, but admission is always free.

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Pedal Haus Brewery

You can drink a cold one at several Pedal Haus brewery locations throughout Arizona, though their Tempe tap room may be one of the most exciting. Walk beneath a faded red cruiser hanging above the entrance before entering an airy taproom packed with casual picnic tables and lush green houseplants. 

Though the bright yellow walls and open floor plan may catch your eye, it’s actually the food and drink you should be paying attention to. Sip quality classics like American Pale Ales or IPAs, or opt for more unique brews like Sourgaarten Blue Raspberry. Don’t let the beer steal the show, though, as their pub burgers, sandwiches, and full entrees like beer can chicken make the perfect pair for anything on tap.

Insider Tip

Don’t miss their Friday Happy Hour specials. It’s 11am-6:30pm, so make a whole day of it.

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